EDITORIAL: Time to use the Legislature to end Native American school mascot slurs

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This editorial ran in December when Rep. Joe Salazar first proposed legislation being heard at the state Capitol in March. Here’s a link to House Bill 1165: https://bit.ly/1CfwQRo

It’s difficult to determine what’s more surreal about state Rep. Joe Salazar’s proposal to force Colorado high schools to stop using names and mascots offensive to Native Americans: that we have to pass laws to get these schools to give up their insensitive bigotry, or that there’s actually opposition to Salazar’s proposal.

The “Lamar High School Savages?” The “La Vita Redskins”? Still? It’s mind boggling that even decades ago modern, contemplative sensibilities wouldn’t first compel the schools themselves to stop insulting and demeaning Native Americans with these flagrant slurs. But it’s just as appalling that state lawmakers would wait so long to take action against government sponsored bigotry and racism.

The mascot of the Eaton High School Reds. A Colorado state lawmaker says he will sponsor a bill forcing such images and names to be changed because many Native Americans find them degrading
The mascot of the Eaton High School Reds. A Colorado state lawmaker says he will sponsor a bill forcing such images and names to be changed because many Native Americans find them degrading

Consider this. If a teacher at any Colorado school were to call a Native American student a “redskin” or a “savage,” they would be out of a job before some other bigot trying to defend them could draw a first breath. It is unthinkable that even in the rural wilds of Lamar or Eaton  that people there would not know that Native Americans are among the most abused, marginalized, mistreated culture and race in American history, and that these pejorative slurs only continue to trivialize them as humans and Americans. The site of the infamous Sand Creek Massacre, one of the most shameful events in U.S. history, is in the backyard of the Lamar, “Savages.”

Salazar’s proposal, there isn’t even a bill yet, would create a list of all the public-school mascots from around the state that are either blatant or potential slurs on Native Americans and force them to either, stop, get permission from the tribe they offend, or lose state funding. There are 48 of them. That’s a lot of options and leeway for a state-funded institution that would be in federal court fast if they treated non-Native American students and community members in the same way. Critics have heaped huge doses of hate on Salazar, complaining that this should hardly take up the time of the state legislature because it’s “only” a public school mascot, and a source of local pride and history. Pride? Pride in slurring someone’s race and culture?

“Do you really believe that schools are being derogatory because of their mascot name?” one woman said who emailed Salazar. The message was reprinted in September at  indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com. “ If that is the case, then we shouldn’t use animal names, cowboys, colors foods or anything as peoples feelings might be hurt. I mean, I love the color green so don’t use it because it offensive to me. Mascot names have been around for many years, probably before you were born, and because one person gets upset, it’s all over. ”

Salazar and others say the letter is typical, trivializing the slurs and going so far as to equate American Indians to animals, colors or foods.

These schools and communities may be proud of their students and athletes, but it’s sick to think that anyone would be proud to inflict institutionalized bigotry and hatred on anyone, let alone a group of Americans that have been treated so shabbily for hundreds of years.

It’s unclear how some school community of arrogant, insensitive holdouts would find a Native American tribe that would “approve” of the use of a school mascot called, the “Indians,” there are 17 Colorado high schools that use the mascot, or the “Reds.” Perhaps more attention to bill will compel these schools to honor their mascot namesakes by ending their ignorance or apathy and volunteering to cease using their blatant bigotry and slander. If not, we heartily support Salazar’s effort to force these schools to end their embarrassing hate in the name of school athletics.

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davebarnes
davebarnes
6 years ago

Another example of government overreach. What is next?

schotts
schotts
6 years ago
Reply to  davebarnes

What’s next will be the streets, counties and municipalities with any inference to Native American names. After that, they will go after businesses that may have any reference to Native American’s.

Over reach is putting it mild.

Retiree
Retiree
6 years ago
Reply to  davebarnes

Guess you wouldn’t mind being called a savage.

davebarnes
davebarnes
6 years ago
Reply to  Retiree

You are correct.

Aldo Elmnight
Aldo Elmnight
6 years ago
Reply to  Retiree

If she ripped the scalp off another living human being then the description would be correct.

ezaspie
ezaspie
6 years ago
Reply to  Aldo Elmnight

To characterize a whole group of people in any way is racist. You are a racist Aldo.

Kevin
Kevin
6 years ago

Seriously, this is at the top of your agenda of issues in Colorado? Would you please look on your shirt sleeve and peel off your “sensibilities” (feelings) and get on with life. If you aren’t of native american descent, then you have NO VOICE in this! IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! If the american natives in this state have a problem with a school’s mascot, let THEM make the first move! Salazar is just another liberal trying to divert attention from the horse manure he and his “buddies” have been spreading!

schotts
schotts
6 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

It’s top of the DEMOCRAT agenda. Republicans care about jobs, the economy, free markets, opportunity, freedom, liberty.

Dems – they care about manipulating people for votes and party/gov before the people.

Retiree
Retiree
6 years ago
Reply to  schotts

Yeah, all Dems hate America. That’s why they gave us Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, Worker’s Comp, and a host of other benefits. Meanwhile the other guys were busy duping the electorate into helping them line their pockets with corporate tax breaks, ending the millionaire estate tax, ending collective bargaining, and on and on and on. Schotts, they definitely have you brainwashed.

schotts
schotts
6 years ago
Reply to  Retiree

Somebody needs their daily shot of box wine and Xanax

Frank2525
Frank2525
6 years ago
Reply to  Retiree

Going to cut in here on that one. Explain decline of middle class numbers, and world has about 60% more Billionaires and whole lot more new millionaires in last 6 years. Also explain why banks and credit unions only pay about 1% to 1.5% on checking or savings accounts. Wouldn’t be because under present policies, government is borrowing money as never before, and don’t intend to pay it back at interest rates would it?
You sign as retiree, as I was from military. In past 6 years my COLA increase each time it was paid, was very low, with no increase in 3 of those years (?). While WH was giving 30-50% increase in salaries to their staff. Don’t you think a military retiree and spouse see higher cost of food, transportation, taxes and definitely utilities in every year. You must have retired from one of those chosen fields in Civil Service, where used to be GS7, are now GS9-11 and still doing same job they were. I worked closely with civil service, and as SSgt (E5) I supervised 3 GS-9, because they were in classroom teaching – same job I had before I graduated my block of students. Military Pay is supposed to be related to Civil Service pay, but that I comparing apples and oranges.
——-And I have never seen those programs you listed as gifts. I have paid dearly, on low pay, working 2-3 part time jobs at a time over 26 years to support family, to now collect on those payments. But they were not gifts – not then, not now. Everyone of them was passed by one administration, with the payment stretched out over following administrations. Just as my retirement pay was not paid for, while serving, and it looks like I get to bite the bullet again this year for smaller increase than was requested by House.

Kevin
Kevin
6 years ago
Reply to  schotts

Sorry, Schotts, but evidence would have it that Republicans are about the same as Dems, getting re-elected, opposite side of the same coin as it were. There may be a few on both sides that truly want to make this country better, but they are silenced by the majority and the funding from (or lack thereof) the RNC or DNC.

U.S.M.C. Liberal
U.S.M.C. Liberal
6 years ago
Reply to  schotts

Who fought for the working family and working poor? Who fought for the middle class while the Baffons fought for one and one thing only, almost bringing America to its knees: tax cuts for the rich.

Name one thing the GOP did for the working family.

Brainwashed fools. You support them without realizing you’re interests are not theirs.

Squid
Squid
6 years ago

The phenomenon of White Guilt causes some to actively seek out offense where none is present. From what I’ve observed, those claiming that Native American mascots are offensive are not Native American.

“But team officials and the NFL paint a nearly uniform picture of support
for the name, typically citing the results of a 2004 survey by the
Annenberg Public Policy Center, that 90 percent of the 768
self-identified Native Americans polled said the team name “Redskins”
did not bother them. (The question: “The professional football team in
Washington calls itself the Washington Redskins. As a Native American,
do you find that name offensive or doesn’t it bother you?”)”.

ezaspie
ezaspie
6 years ago
Reply to  Squid

Salazar is a mexican-american. I’m not sure white guilt applies here…

Squid
Squid
6 years ago
Reply to  ezaspie

You are predictably short-sided in your understanding of the issue.

Mitch Wright
Mitch Wright
6 years ago

It’s not government overreach to propose an end to one type of institutionalized racism in public schools. It’s not white guilt to try to own up to one type of discrimination against a minority group. It is our business to stand up against injustice and privilege if we really believe that all are created equal.

Aldo Elmnight
Aldo Elmnight
6 years ago
Reply to  Mitch Wright

Racism: I don’t think you know what that word means.

Mitch Wright
Mitch Wright
6 years ago
Reply to  Aldo Elmnight

Then you would be mistaken. A group of people is being characterized in simplistic, often derogatory terms based on supposed affiliation by culture, genetics, ethnicity or some other trait that could be considered racial. The labeling is being done by public institutions and it asserts some other alleged attribute, difference or relative worth. Sounds like institutionalized racism to me. How might you describe it?

Aldo Elmnight
Aldo Elmnight
6 years ago
Reply to  Mitch Wright

No one is characterizing anyone. They are picking an aspect of a culture (one that thankfully does not exist anymore) to strike fear in their adversaries. Native Americans cannot blame torturing/selling women, stealing, murdering and mutilating people on their race.

You should start a campaign against the Vikings.

Before that look up the Frankfurt school of neo Marxism so you can stop being a dupe.

Mitch Wright
Mitch Wright
6 years ago
Reply to  Aldo Elmnight

Expressing thankfulness about the supposed elimination of Native American culture betrays the racism inherent in sanctioned slurs like “redskin” and “savage”. Your argument exemplifies the bias which many of us believe to be harmful and to have no rightful place in naming public institutions like schools.

Aldo Elmnight
Aldo Elmnight
6 years ago
Reply to  Mitch Wright

I am also thankful

Mitch Wright
Mitch Wright
6 years ago
Reply to  Aldo Elmnight

Conflating indigenous peoples with the Nazi Party to justify destruction and humiliation is perverse. Native Americans are people who deserve a chance to be treated with the same dignity and respect as any others, certainly not to be subjected to taxpayer funded put-downs.

ezaspie
ezaspie
6 years ago
Reply to  Aldo Elmnight

You Aldo are a racist. Keep teaching us what that means. Keep standing up against the blacks, mexicans, and now native Americans. Keep fighting that fight Aldo.

Aldo Elmnight
Aldo Elmnight
6 years ago

“Native Americans are among the most abused, marginalized, mistreated culture and race in American history”
That does not mean they were not savages. The many Blackfeet women who had their noses cut off after being accused of adultery would attest to that.

cvxxx
cvxxx
6 years ago

Surface issues when the real problems are buried since they need careful detective work. Bottom line poverty. Poverty is the real cause, then perception. The legal system is made by well to do to rich people who cannot comprehend the effect of their legislation.
A nation that oppresses it’s people who have no respite from expenses they not longer can afford. Some states and municipalities do a better job in helping people get back on their feet. Yet, the real problems will become worse as the segment with power is further disconnected from the reality of lives of the underclasses.
Another indication is mascots. When will names like Vikings become racist? After all the Viking culture was such that prayers were said to avoid the fury of the Vikings. But,they were raiders and conquerors so that’s ok?
If Native Americans were wealthy and powerful redskins would have a positive ring. When only 60 years ago “Redneck” was slur. And living on the wrong side of the tracks was a reason for the police to stop and harass. Those times are out of memory for many.
Truth is the real progress starts at the bottom. It starts with recognizing the value of the individual. It may mean a change for how we see and deal with treaties made in a different time and place with a different economy.
Once I remember as a child hearing of a golden place were all were respected had food and clothing. It was difficult by looking to tell rich from poor. A dream perhaps, but not unattainable.

TimothyTwoToesL:essRightFoot
TimothyTwoToesL:essRightFoot
6 years ago

Namaste Everyone, There are many problems confronting Native Americans and I am involved in issues concerning their basic needs,but this aside along with Mascots let me address the Incident at Oglala which took place 40 years ago next summer. This is a stain on Native Americans and so lets remove it and get closure. Creator is Truth-Justice. Lenard Peltier is required to help, a mans oath is secondary to Creator Spread the word Two Toes wants to honor Creator with Truth Justice Closure with this case. Does anyone know what Jimmy Eagle’s doing these days? Pilamaya, Timothy Two Toes Less Right Foot.

Straylight
Straylight
6 years ago

OK, this is the end of the line for me as far as subscribing to the Sentinel. The endless lliberal moralizing by the editor and columnists has reached a new low. I thought the straight-down-the-line

Straylight
Straylight
6 years ago

OK, this is the end of the line for me as far as subscribing to the Sentinel. The endless liberal moralizing by the editor and columnists has reached a new low. I thought the recent straight-down-the-line Democratic endorsement by the paper was bad enough. You’ve now made the two cardinal errors a newspaper should never make: You’ve told a significant portion of your readers that they are bad people, and you are telling them how to live their lives. I will not be renewing my print subscription.

[Sorry for the duplicate partial post.]